Reviewing the hitter projections for the 2019 Milwaukee Brewers

The 2019 season came to an end for the Milwaukee Brewers after one playoff game. The Brewers choked away a late lead in the National League Wild Card winner-take-all showdown and were sent home packing a year after being one win away from a World Series berth. Overall it was a disappointing campaign for Milwaukee. They had too much talent to just disappear after a single game, though they were lucky to even make the playoffs in the first place.

Because the Brewers season is over, it’s time to look back at the preseason projections and see where the models went wrong and where they went right. So let’s review the season by looking over the projections from The First Out At Third’s own system (RW23), Steamer, and ZiPS. In 2017 — RW23’s debut season — RW23 was fairly accurate with its hitter projections, while it struggled with pitchers. I only projected hitters in 2018 due to a computer malfunction, and RW23 fell behind Steamer and ZiPS. It’ll be interesting to see how well RW23 holds its own in its third season.

You can find the original 2019 hitter projections here.

C Yasmani Grandal

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 532 .247 .355 .487 .842 .240 .361 28 24.0% 14.1% .280
Steamer 496 .237 .344 .453 .797 .216 .345 23 25.0% 13.5% .277
ZiPS 475 .238 .349 .462 .811 .223 .351 23 25.7% 14.3% .281
Actual 632 .246 .380 .468 .848 .222 .361 28 22.0% 17.2% .279

Winner: RW23

RW23 accurately projected Grandal’s weighted on-base average and number of home runs, while nailing his batting average and OPS. RW23 is the clear winner here, as is Grandal after a fantastic season.

1B Jesus Aguilar

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 595 .258 .329 .480 .810 .223 .346 30 27.2% 8.8% .309
Steamer 578 .242 .317 .454 .771 .212 .330 28 26.4% 9.1% .286
ZiPS 526 .258 .333 .492 .825 .234 .350 28 25.3% 9.5% .297
Actual 369 .236 .325 .389 .714 .153 .307 12 22.0% 11.7% .272

Winner: N/A

The three projection systems all failed to predict Aguilar’s offensive fall. The Brewers ultimately traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays, and while he hit better, his power from 2018 remained gone. No winners here.

2B/3B Mike Moustakas

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 603 .269 .330 .508 .838 .239 .356 34 16.6% 8.1% .270
Steamer 575 .261 .321 .489 .809 .228 .342 30 16.5% 7.5% .264
ZiPS 580 .267 .324 .506 .818 .239 .350 32 16.2% 7.1% .268
Actual 584 .254 .329 .516 .845 .262 .348 35 16.8% 9.1% .250

Winner: RW23

It was a tight race, but RW23 comes away with a narrow victory, due to it more accurately projecting Moustakas’ power numbers. Playing a full year at Miller Park sure helped his power, as Moustakas’ 35 home runs were the second most of his career.

3B Travis Shaw

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 595 .282 .376 .534 .910 .252 .386 34 19.0% 12.9% .298
Steamer 598 .249 .334 .457 .791 .209 .338 27 21.3% 10.8% .276
ZiPS 560 .261 .340 .472 .812 .219 .346 26 21.4% 11.1% .282
Actual 270 .157 .281 .270 .551 .113 .248 7 33.0% 13.3% .216

Winner: N/A

Let’s forget I predicted Shaw would make the All-Star roster this year. Let’s just wipe that from our memories because this was a lost season for Shaw. He spent a lot of time in the minors and looked completely lost when he was with the Brewers. No one foresaw this kind of downfall. Nobody’s a winner.

SS Orlando Arcia

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 552 .245 .293 .357 .650 .112 .286 11 22.9% 6.2% .303
Steamer 507 .253 .302 .377 .679 .123 .293 10 19.4% 6.2% .299
ZiPS 553 .247 .294 .360 .654 .113 .283 10 21.3% 6.0% .302
Actual 546 .223 .283 .350 .633 .128 .269 15 20.0% 7.9% .253

Winner: RW23

Arcia was the worst hitter in baseball in 2019, and it may be time to question if his bat will ever play at a league-average level. RW23 takes home another win, though it was extremely close to being a three-way tie.

OF Ryan Braun

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 460 .270 .331 .493 .824 .222 .351 20 19.8% 8.0% .300
Steamer 507 .265 .330 .476 .807 .212 .342 23 19.6% 8.4% .290
ZiPS 440 .269 .332 .470 .802 .201 .340 18 19.5% 8.2% .300
Actual 508 .285 .343 .505 .849 .220 .354 22 20.7% 6.7% .325

Winner: RW23

Another win for RW23, as Braun enjoyed a offensive resurgence. Steamer and ZiPS underestimated his power numbers, giving RW23 the clear and decisive victory.

OF Lorenzo Cain

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 600 .296 .372 .424 .796 .128 .349 12 15.8% 10.3% .339
Steamer 620 .284 .356 .422 .778 .138 .339 14 16.9% 9.2% .327
ZiPS 568 .287 .359 .409 .768 .123 .336 11 16.2% 9.3% .330
Actual 623 .260 .325 .372 .697 .112 .302 11 17.0% 8.0% .301

Winner: ZiPS

This contest was close between ZiPS and Steamer, though neither projection system saw Cain’s offense falling as much as it did. Cain dealt with injuries throughout the season and was nowhere near the hitter he was for the Brewers in 2018. The Brewers will need him to bounce back in a big way.

OF Christian Yelich

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 662 .310 .390 .544 .934 .234 .397 29 20.5% 11.0% .360
Steamer 637 .297 .381 .515 .896 .218 .382 26 20.5% 11.2% .344
ZiPS 673 .298 .379 .522 .901 .224 .384 28 21.1% 10.8% .349
Actual 580 .329 .429 .671 1.100 .342 .442 44 20.3% 13.8% .355

Winner: RW23

All three projection systems thought Yelich would regress in 2019, a word Yelich grew to hate. And Yelich proved everyone wrong, as he set career marks in almost every offensive category. RW23 picks up another victory here, due to its more bullish projection.

1B Eric Thames

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 340 .232 .316 .478 .794 .246 .342 19 32.3% 10.0% .295
Steamer 258 .235 .329 .459 .788 .224 .336 12 30.3% 11.2% .299
ZiPS 427 .229 .333 .478 .818 .256 .346 23 32.3% 12.2% .293
Actual 459 .247 .346 .505 .851 .258 .354 25 30.5% 11.1% .313

Winner: ZiPS

Because Aguilar forgot how to hit, Thames saw more playing time and eventually took over the starting job completely when Aguilar was traded. As a result, put together a very solid season. His wRC+ of 116 was well above league average and his on-base skills returned after dipping a bit in 2018. However, he’s now on the free agent market after the Brewers declined his $7.5 million option. ZiPS takes home the win here, as it believed in Thames’ 2017 performance more than his 2018 performance.

OF Ben Gamel

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 322 .272 .346 .416 .762 .144 .332 6 19.7% 9.5% .330
Steamer 110 .267 .333 .393 .725 .126 .316 2 20.9% 8.5% .330
ZiPS 530 .267 .331 .413 .744 .146 .322 9 20.4% 8.3% .326
Actual 356 .248 .337 .373 .710 .125 .308 7 29.2% 11.2% .347

Winner: Steamer

Steamer is finally on the board! Gamel turned out to be a nice bench piece for the Brewers, but he showed little extra-base power and his strikeouts skyrocketed. He should likely resume is bench role next season.

INF Hernan Perez

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 295 .254 .288 .398 .686 .143 .297 9 21.6% 4.6% .301
Steamer 216 .253 .290 .394 .685 .141 .295 5 20.0% 4.9% .294
ZiPS 415 .255 .286 .401 .687 .145 .294 11 20.5% 4.3% .298
Actual 246 .228 .262 .379 .642 .151 .271 8 26.8% 4.5% .283

Winner: Three-way tie

The projections were so similar to each other that it’s basically impossible to pick a sole winner, so I’ve giving the victory to all three projection systems. Perez isn’t fun to project and he’s not fun to watch, so it makes sense.

INF Cory Spangenberg

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 252 .264 .328 .426 .753 .162 .328 8 27.1% 8.0% .339
Steamer 75 .245 .306 .383 .688 .138 .300 2 28.4% 7.4% .328
ZiPS 461 .246 .306 .406 .712 .160 .308 13 30.4% 7.2% .337
Actual 102 .232 .277 .358 .635 .126 .267 2 35.3% 5.9% .351

Winner: Steamer

Steamer takes home an easy victory here by correctly predicting Spangenberg’s role and low power numbers. Spangenberg is a free agent and will likely move on from Milwaukee.

C Manny Pina

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA HR K% BB% BABIP
RW23 261 .239 .303 .365 .668 .126 .293 6 19.0% 6.7% .281
Steamer 96 .250 .306 .388 .694 .138 .301 2 20.4% 6.6% .296
ZiPS 334 .247 .303 .385 .688 .138 .297 8 19.2% 6.3% .285
Actual 179 .228 .313 .411 .724 .184 .308 7 27.9% 8.9% .284

Winner: Steamer

Steamer’s projected plate appearances for Pina were far too low, but everything else was relatively on point, earning it a victory. Pina will return to the Brewers in 2020, though his role — with Grandal’s likely departure — is yet to be determined.

FINAL RESULTS:

RW23: 6 wins

Steamer: 4 wins

ZiPS: 3 wins

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